Letter from Arthur Powell

Scope and Content

Arthur begins his letter by thanking his parents for the safe arrival of his requested parcels, numbered 1 and 2. He informs his parents of his new regiment number, which unusually has not been removed by the censor as in previous letters; Arthur's is 52154 and Harry his friend is, 52152. Arthur apologises again for the lack of letter-writing and blames this on the '"exgencies" of the military situation'. One can only assume that they are under constant fire, and as in combat situations, either mending trenches (in-line) or fighting. Arthur is 'terribly busy nowadays' and is kept 'constantly on the go'. He does however try to reassure his parents that he is 'fit and well and feeling as right as rain'. He assures his parents that they must not worry about him, even though it is very cold, but he does not mind this as long as the 'rain keeps off'. When it does rain however, the mud is unbearable, and described in Arthur's usual humorous tones, requires 'swimming gear'. Arthur's unit has been supplied with, 'singlets (which help to prevent lice from getting into their clothing) pants, cardigans, mufflers, and gloves'. When they are in line the soldiers wear leather jackets as the heavy coats are too cumbersome and restrict movement. Arthur mentions that he has received a parcel form his Aunt Lizzie, which arrived in bad condition, 'all open and broken'. A letter has arrived from a 'Houses' in which he mentions Harry who is still waiting for his foot operation back in Bristol; 'Lucky Chap, Eh!' Arthur remarks. Houses', his friend, is also out, somewhere in the Somme, stationed with the Australians, who funnily enough Arthur remarks relieved his unit some weeks previous. Arthur mentions to his parents that they must have heard 'the old seventh' are now up to full strength and billeted at Colchester. He is expecting them to be sent to the front by January and amongst them will be another friend by the name of 'E. James' Arthur acknowledges that James's family will be anxious about this because it will be now real 'soldiering'. Arthur concludes his letter with his usual love and remembrances to family and friends. There is a cryptic message at the end referring to sausages, are these food parcels or bombs!? 'The sausages were fine. We must have more of them and still more until the enemy is crushed.' Arthur's humour perhaps.

Dated at: France.